A Day at the Lake

A long weekend like Memorial Day is a great chance for some time on the water, but not everyone is close to a beach. However, nearly every city or town does have a lake of some sort (either natural or manmade) nearby.  These lakes provide the perfect chance to escape while being close and accessible.  They are just right for a great day trip for hiking or a weekend camping trip.  But perhaps best of all, many have little beaches that are tailor made for spending a relaxing afternoon.

I like to visit our state parks and natural areas (most of which are just half an hour away) for a few hours of relaxing with my toes in the sand or floating in the cool water.  These little lake escapes are just right for a mini-vacation without all the work a big trip involves.

Find a lake near you using Lakepedia.  Once you’ve picked the perfect spot, here’s the gear you’ll need for a snack-sized local getaway that will help you make the most of your weekend:

Be sure to read Butc(h)er’s affiliate information before using our links.

Scala Raffia Lifeguard Straw Hat ($27).  A day in the sun requires more protection from the sun than a baseball cap can offer.  This straw hat is cheap and offers maximum coverage for your head, neck, and shoulders.  You’ll look better than you think, too.

Chums Neoprene Eyewear Retainer ($6).  Chums help keep those sweet sunglasses from ending up on the bottom of the lake if you should get tipped over by a stray wave from a powerboat or mischievous date.

UE Roll 2 Bluetooth Speaker($67).  A relaxing afternoon is a perfect time for your favorite playlist.  This speaker is waterproof which also makes it sandproof.  That’s perfect for your long day on that tiny beach.  Just try and keep the volume reasonable so you’re not that jackass everyone else on the beach hates.

AO Coolers Canvas Soft Cooler($60).  This soft cooler is just big enough to pack some cold drinks and a picnic lunch.  The shoulder strap makes it easier to lug out to your oasis and The Wirecutter has ranked it their best pick for soft coolers.

LUENX Polarized Aviator Sunglasses ($18).  I think cheap sunglasses are the best choice for any situation, but most especially for those times where they stand a chance of getting lost or broken.  The classic shape of these aviators looks great on just about every face and the polarized lenses make it easier to people watch without getting caught.

Tommy Bahama Backpack Cooler Chair ($50-ish).  A comfortable chair is the foundation for a good, long day relaxing.  These Tommy chairs sit low and have several positions for the backrest and a built-in headrest so you can go from reading to napping without moving your ass.  They come in a bunch of colors so pick something festive and spend your day switching back and forth from the water to your new favorite chair.

JVC HAFX32R Marshmallow Earbuds ($11).  Sometimes the best way to get some peace and quiet is to fill your ears up with sounds of your own choosing.  If you aren’t the reading type, or you want something to occupy your monkey mind while you lounge, grab these little earbuds.  They do a fair job of blocking some noise while allowing you remain slightly aware of your surroundings.  Put on your favorite podcast or try an audiobook.  You might be surprised how much you like listening to your entertainment.

The Lady in the Lake – Raymond Chandler ($12).  A long day begs for a good mystery and nothing suits better than a hard-boiled crime novel.  Raymond Chandler is one of the big names of the genre for good reason and, at 272 pages, you might just finish this before the sun sets.

Banana Boat Kids Tear Free SPF 50 Sunscreen ($9).  We’ve all ruined memories of a perfectly good day with a sunburn that lasts for a week.  The idea of tanned limbs is great, but don’t skimp on the SPF.  There’s nothing sexy about increased risk of cancer and a sunburn.  But why “kids” sunscreen?  Because the active ingredients are mineral based instead of chemical based, it creates a physical barrier on your skin, and it will not stain your swimsuit or t-shirt.  Use more than you think and more often than you think – no one ever says “Man, I wish I had used less sunscreen and gotten a sunburn.”

L.L. Bean Beach Towel ($30).  This towel is so big that you could skip the beach blanket (but don’t).  This beach towel would be good for lying out on, but its also thick and absorbent and perfect for drying off from head to toe after a refreshing dip.

L.L. Bean Large Boat and Tote ($35).  You need a way to tote all this stuff down to the water and carrying several small bags is a quick way to start and end your day with curses.  This bag is big enough to carry all of your gear easily and look good doing it.

Swimways Pool Lounger($15).  Nothing is quite as relaxing as setting yourself adrift in the cool nearly waveless water.  This float is perfect for all day long lounging.

Coalatree Kachula Adventure Blanket 2.0 ($70).  A good blanket is a key to a successful day of relaxing for a few reasons: (1) it lets you stake out a minimum territory around your chair and gear, (2) it gives you somewhere soft to take a nap, and (3) it serves as the perfect place to spread out your picnic fixings.

A great day at the lake starts with good gear.  Being able to tune out the people next to you or get lost in a good book while avoiding sunburn may all seems like obvious things. But it’s easy to overlook the little things that make the day go smoothly. Double check your gear bag to make sure you have all the things you need to make the day enjoyable.

After you’ve checked your gear, take a few minutes to think about what you want from the day.  What memories do you want to make?  Do you want to spend the day in quiet repose or do you want to connect with your friends or family?  At the end of the day, what stories do you want to be able to tell?  Setting your intentions can start the whole day off in the right direction and, by the time the sun sets, you will have made a pretty good day into a day you’ll never forget.

Outfit: Outdoor Country Concert

“Perfect song on the radio
Sing along ’cause it’s one we know
It’s a smile, it’s a kiss
It’s a sip of wine, it’s summertime
Sweet summertime”

~Kenny Chesney~

Outdoor Concert mens style

So you got tickets to see that great country singer this summer.  You want to look good, but aren’t sure what to wear.  You’ll be outside and its a really casual situation, but since you’ve recently upgraded your style, you don’t want to settle for jeans, a t-shirt and flip-flops.  Here’s a casual outfit that hits all the right notes of style without looking out of place or getting too fancy.

First, remember that this isn’t cosplay.  Just because the music is country does not mean this is an excuse to dress like a cowboy.  Maybe you could wear the cowboy hat. Or the boots if you already wear them. Not both. Especially not both and the huge belt buckle.

American Eagle Outfitters Classic Plaid Button Down Shirt ($20).  Button up shirts are not dress shirts.  This plaid shirt is bright and casual and a little bit country without looking like a costume.  Roll up those sleeves, unbutton the top 2 buttons, and, if you are slim, leave it untucked.

J.Crew Factory 7″ Broken-in Reade Shorts ($35).  It gets hot standing out in the sun and jeans would be uncomfortable even though they would look good with the other elements of this look.  Opt for shorts instead.  Skip the cargo shorts and the 10″ long guys’ shorts that end up looking like capris.  These 7″ shorts should hit above your knee and keep you cool.

Adidas ZX 700 Runner Sneakers ($75).  I know cowboy boots can be sexy.  But they are not comfortable, especially when you are going to be spending a lot of time on your feet.  Sandals keep your feet cooler, but sneakers are still the best option here.  They are comfortable, casual, and you don’t have to worry about losing them if you have a bit too much fun.

Ayliss Woven Belt ($7).  I’m a firm believer in belts with all outfits.  They add that finishing touch and make you look like a grownup.  Woven belts are the most casual option. This white version has a leather accent near the bucket which compliments the bracelet.

LUENX Aviator Sunglasses($18).  A concert is not the place for high-end, high priced sunglasses.  There’s a good chance they will get dropped and stepped on, or lost, so this cheap pair of aviators are just the ticket.

The Bone Art Place Small Matau Necklace ($25).  This bone necklace looks great with those top 2 buttons undone.  You could skip it, but accessories are often the pieces that make an outfit look put together.

Lucky Brand Cali Bear Hat ($28).  Consider swapping out the stereotypical cowboy hat with a baseball cap instead.  Its more versatile and keeps your outfit from becoming a costume.

Bawston and Tucker Aroostook Cologne ($16).  You may end the night smelling like a brewery, but start it off right with this great cologne.  The description of “fresh, citrusy, earthy” is spot on.  This cologne smells like summer.  Dab a little behind each ear and on your chest and prepare yourself for exclamations of how damn good you smell.

BraceletStreetUSA Leather Bracelet ($9).  We swap out our usual watch for a bracelet here as this is the perfect place to ignore time altogether and really be present.  This stacked look bracelet looks a little bohemian and a little rugged.  The leather is the same color as on our belt.  The blue is a different blue than either the shorts and the sneakers because we want the items in our outfit to compliment each other, not to match each other.

Lifeproof FRE Phone Case ($36).  Spending time outdoors is a good reason to protect that $700 computer you carry with you everywhere.  There’s a good chance of dropping your phone in the dirt or mud when you are trying to take a picture after a few drinks or of the guy next to you spilling his beer all down your front, including your pocket and your phone.  This case is incredibly protective, light, and not too bulky.  As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Handzies Travel Wipes ($12).  I can see you rolling your eyes.  Hand wipes?  Seriously?  Well, yes.  Have you ever used a porta-potty?  Those things are nasty.  Most people think about hand sanitizer first, but these are (a) easier to keep in your back pocket, and (2) a lot less messy.  And you’ll for sure score some gallant gentleman points from your girl when you can offer her one.

Pa Knows Best: Get Outside

A sad fact of “modern” life is that most of us don’t spend much time outside.  Some days, the extent of our exposure to the elements is the walk to and from our car on the way to work and back.

Yet, talk of the weather is that great common ground for elevator rides, and idle chit-chat in the break room at work where people express sadness when its rainy or joy when the sun is shining.  We check the weather before we dress, have apps dedicated to it, have an entire network channel devoted to it, and local weather updates every ten minutes on the network morning shows.  What an irony that our culture is nearly obsessed with the weather when we barely even experience it.

Pa paid attention to the weather for different reasons, foremost amongst them being that he actually spent time outside.  There’s a good chance that Pa was outside for part of every day no matter what his job may have been.  My 91-year-old pa still bundles up and goes outside for something every day,  sometimes its to split or stack some wood or pick up debris in the yard, and sometimes its just to get the paper.

There are lots of studies about the benefits of being outdoors.  Whether it was a short time on a weeknight after work, or for longer projects on the weekends, Pa got outside practically every day and you should too.  Finding the time to get outside is easier than you think.

Here are some easy ways to spend a little more time outside each day.

Morning walk.  This is a great way to wake up and get your blood moving so you can meet the day more energized.  If you are an early riser, spend half an hour walking around your neighborhood and enjoying the sites and sounds of the world waking up.

Morning coffee or tea.  If you don’t have an extra half an hour in your morning routine, try spending five or ten minutes just sitting quietly on your porch with your coffee or tea.  Leave your phone inside and use this time to listen to the birds, or watch your neighbors walk their dogs, or enjoy the changing colors of the morning sky.

Brunch or coffee.  The weekends are a great time to head to the coffee shop or cafe for brunch.  Instead of crowding into the dining room, ask to sit outside.  It’s great for people watching or enjoying conversation while getting a little sky on your skin.

Lunch break.  How easy it is to spend your lunch break huddled over your phone or gulping down something from the drive-thru.  But alas, the time spent with your window down to order food and exchange money for a sack of lunch doesn’t really cut it as “outdoor” time.  Instead, see if there is a park near your office and spend half an hour sitting on a bench enjoying the breeze.  Or take a 15-minute walk along the path to stretch out those muscles that have been sitting all day.  If a park isn’t close, head out to the parking lot for a couple of laps.  Even a few minutes soaking up some vitamin D and loosening your muscles can make the whole afternoon at your desk seem easier.

Wind down after work.  Take a few minutes right after work to sit on your porch with a glass of beer or wine or water and just let the work day fade away. Chat with your girl about the day or make plans for the weekend.

Same ole, same ole.  On our busy weekdays, we tend to think the best way to relax is to plop on the couch and play online or watch TV.  Consider spending even 10-15 minutes outside instead.  You can even take your computer outside with you!  Look at that.  You can do the same activities you always do while getting a bit of fresh air.

Chores.  Pa probably spent time outside gardening or tending to the lawn.  Even in the suburbs many of us have a little patch of grass to call our own.  Take some time to plant flowers by the sidewalk, or rake your leaves instead of blowing them into the street, or sweep your porch and sidewalk.  The quiet repetitious nature of manual chores can be almost meditative and some of our best thinking can be done while our hands are busy but our minds are free.

Walk.  Take an evening stroll around the neighborhood or on a nearby greenway or through the pasture.  An after-dinner walk is an especially good way to wind the evening down in the warmer months.

Workout.  So many people run straight from their climate-controlled office to their climate controlled gym in order to work up a sweat.  But you can skip the gym and do a bodyweight workout or play a pickup game of basketball or go on a strenuous hike or bike ride and get all the benefits of working your muscles with the added bonus of being outside.

Sports.  This time I mean the kind you watch.  Summer is the perfect time to head to your local minor legal ballpark and spend the evening cheering on your team.  You may not even realize that you are outside since you are busy watching the game.

Play.  Once we reach adulthood, many of us give up on the idea of playing.  But a half an hour shooting hoops or playing catch can be a real highlight of an evening and make you feel the same joy as it did when you were a kid.  Or take advantage of your neighborhood pool for a half an hour of the joyous relaxation of floating around without a care in the world.

Cook.  In the summer months, cooking outside is a double bonus of being fun and keeping the house from getting too warm.  Fire up the grill and spend a pleasant hour on the deck cooking dinner and relaxing.  If you have a firepit, don’t just save it for weekends.  Take an evening off from streaming Netflix and sit around the fire making S’mores instead.

Sleep.  We tend to make a big deal about sleeping outside, reserving it only for planned camping trips.  But if you have a backyard, a night out under the stars is literally as easy as walking out your back door.  You can set up a tent or just make a little nest for yourself and your honey with blankets and pillows.

Sit.  My grandparents would spend time every evening sitting on their patio.  No radio, no books.  They would sit and talk quietly or sit in silence.  The entertainment was provided by the cows shuffling down the lane for their evening drink and hummingbirds zooming between the 3-4 feeders.  We once counted 23 hummingbirds at one time.  This quiet time was a gentle transition from the hard work of the day into the restfulness of the evening.

It is so easy in today’s world to spend all of our time inside. We go to work, eat in restaurants, work out in gyms, and relax by watching TV.  But we are missing a crucial element in our lives by not spending any time outside.  Pa’s daily life included time outside each day, whether he was doing chores or working in the yard.  Today, there are a ton of easy options for getting outside each day, if only for a few minutes.  You might be surprised at how spending just a little time under the sky each day can make your life feel better.  Take a page from Pa’s book and get outside each day.

Outfits – Spring Casual Friday

“Everyone’s watching, to see what you will do
Everyone’s looking at you
. . .
Everybody’s working for the weekend
Everybody wants a little romance
Everybody’s goin’ off the deep end
Everybody needs a second chance”

~Loverboy~

Lands’ End Chambray Shirt ($50). Seiko SNN241 Chronograph ($101). Zojirushi SM-SA48-NM Stainless Steel Mug($23).  School of Sock – The Darius ($12).  RevoLity Woven Belt ($10).  Banana Republic Stay Straight White Jeans ($90). Combatant Gent Chocolate Brown Suede Chelsea Boot ($90).    Tommy Hilfiger Smaller Flap Over Messenger Bag ($70).

Outfits: Spring Farmer’s Market

“Making the effort to really know where our food comes from gets us in touch with the farmer, the real force behind our food.”

~Theresa Marquez~

Lands’ End Forewind Twill Shirt ($20).  Polaroid Eyewear Polarized Navigator Sunglasses ($65). Timex Expedition Scout Watch($40). Joyo Money Clip ($24). Ayliss Woven Belt ($5).  Cash.  DSTLD Slim Jeans in Indigo Timber ($65).  Palladium Pallabrouse Boots ($63).  L.L. Bean Boat and Tote ($35).